Sunday, March 9, 2014



What does the popular screen giant and the Kalamazoo Symphony have in common??

Reiko Yamada, the KSO's Principal Keyboard!

Reiko Yamada brought the music of Japanese composer 
Akira Ifukube to the Miller Auditorium stage in 2008 for 
an electrifying performance of Ifukube's "Ritmica Ostinata"
for solo piano and orchestra.  It was Reiko's "star turn" 
to perform as a soloist with the Kalamazoo Symphony.

That performance launched a new phase in the Chicago-
based pianist's career, spawning CD sessions in Japan, 
and concerts in both Japan and the USA.  All this, plus 
Reiko's KSO commitments, and her performing and 
teaching schedule in Chicago make her a "Godzilla Gal" 
of sorts, possessor of super-human stamina!

                                                     -image courtesy of Google Images

Akira Ifukube (pronounced 'foo-koo-bee) considered to be the dean of Japanese
composers, is best known for his movie score for the 1954 cult classic, GODZILLA.
Ifukube was more than a "one hit wonder", however...

                                                              -image courtesy of Google Images

Akira Ifukube (1914-2006) was a prolific composer throughout his long life.
Born almost a generation before Toru Takemitsu, Ifukube introduced Japanese 
music to the world, but with a twist.  Traditional Japanese music, fired in his
imagination, was scored for Western European instruments (piano, violin) and
traditional European groups, such as symphony orchestras.  To this writer's ear,
Ifukube's "Ritmica Ostinata" is Stravinsky-esque in its driving rhythmic figures.
The influence of the French impressionists is heard in quieter passages.

Reiko Yamada became the new Kalamazoo Symphony Principal Keyboard
after Alice retired.  A fond friendship was forged.  Whenever Reiko was in town
for rehearsals and concerts, it was cause for celebration!  Going backstage after a
concert was a must, and brunch dates downtown or dinner parties at Alice's were
a regular occurrence.

                                              Alice & Reiko having brunch, 2004

NOW PUBLISHED!  A longer article on Reiko's amazing life story is on the main blog,
Alice's Archives:  50 Years of Kalamazoo Symphony Memorabilia.

Read about her upcoming performance with the Tokyo Symphony in Ifukube's "Ritmica
Ostinata for Piano and Orchestra", on May 31, 2014.

Alice's Archives:  50 Years of Kalamazoo Symphony Memorabilia
(click on the title tab in the header bar)

REIKO YAMADA:  Samurai Pianist


In the meantime, click on the YouTube link below to enjoy a "Godzilla Medley", 
performed at an orchestral concert in Japan (complete with cutaways to GODZILLA 
film clips).

This YouTube link was posted courtesy of "Habanerotube".  Arigato!  (Thank you!)

                                   Akira Ifukube - Godzilla Medley - YouTube         


                                                   -movie poster for the original 1954 GODZILLA


Sunday, August 12, 2012


The Supper Club-- when a date on the calendar meant a night on the town in 1950s and '60s Kalamazoo.

This was when parents dressed up and called a babysitter, leaving behind a whiff of perfume and sophistication as they rushed out the door.  Cocktail dresses and dinner jackets were de rigeur for Supper Club members.

The place was the ballroom in one of the hotels on Michigan Avenue in downtown Kalamazoo.  Round tables with white cloths were arranged around the dance floor with three or four couples per table for an evening of dining and dancing.

At the center of it all was the live orchestra that brought out the best dance moves in these young couples-- professionals and parents by day, city slickers on Saturday night.

Bobby Davidson and the big band that bore his name was often the featured orchestra on the Supper Club roster.  This was not just a three-piece combo, but a 15+ member big band with original arrangements by their leader, the diminutive drummer with a toothy grin.  Seeing Bobby Davidson setting up his drum kit  meant the fun had just begun.

Turning back the clock a decade or so, one might have found this same roomful of people in Army or Navy uniforms at a World War II canteen, dancing to a live band playing the music of Glenn Miller.  That era was Bobby's era as well.

When he joined the United States Air Force in 1942, Bobby Davidson signed up for flight training until the powers that be learned of his musical talents.  He stayed on with the dance band at the Aviation Cadet Center in San Antonio, Texas, entertaining the troops until 1945.

After the war, Bobby returned to Kalamazoo (where he had grown up), and formed an all-GI orchestra-- the only one of its kind.  The Bobby Davidson Orchestra grew out of this ensemble and kept Kalamazoo dancing for 46 years.  Bobby booked the band at country clubs, lodges, at Don Neal's, Mr. T-Bone, and the Supper Club.  His dance card was always full!

                                                    Bobby Davidson
                                         -Photo from his Kalamazoo Gazette
                                                 column, March 29, 1960

Bobby wore many musical hats as a member of the community.  What started out as a part-time job of percussion instructor at Western Michigan University in 1952, Bobby went on to develop the Jazz Studies Program, and started the internationally-recognized Jazz Lab Band.  When he retired from Western in 1983 as Assistant Professor Emeritus of Music, the university bestowed on him the title:  "Godfather of Jazz".                          

Bobby Davidson's library of hundreds of his arrangements for jazz band were donated to the WMU School of Music.

Bobby Davidson was also owner and proprietor of Davidson's Music Shoppe at 135 N. Burdick Street on the Kalamazoo Mall in the 1950s and 1960s.  He sold instruments and records and provided studio space for private instruction.  Bobby even had his own column in the Kalamazoo Gazette.  When long-time Kalamazoo Symphony Music Director Herman Felber retired in 1960, Davidson paid tribute:

                               -Kalamazoo Gazette, Tuesday, March 29, 1960 


                                                    -Kalamazoo Gazette ad, September, 1962

In 1962, the Kalamazoo Symphony enlisted the talents of Bobby Davidson and his band to perform a world-premiere with the KSO under the baton of their new Music Director, Gregory Millar.  The concert venue was the top deck of Gilmore Brothers department store parking lot.  The date was September 11, 1962, a chilly moonlit evening that did not deter the crowds from coming to hear Davidson's band, Max Roach (in another world-premiere), and Alice herself as piano soloist in George Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue.

The Peter Phillips composition that featured the Bobby Davidson Big Band, Variations on a Theme of Thelonious Monk, received only polite applause, but the audience's mood changed when Davidson and his men launched into familiar jazz standards that were played as an encore.

    The newness of the jazz and symphonic wedding in Phillips' style is reflected in the
    fact that the audience applauded the concerto politely but cheered later when Bobby
   Davidson's band played night club blues.   

                                                       -Larry Pratt, Kalamazoo Gazette Staff Writer
                                                        Wednesday, September 12, 1962

In the 1970s, Alice and C.H. and their Waite Avenue neighbors got permission from the City of Kalamazoo to close the street for a block party and engaged Bobby and his band for the occasion.  When they arrived, they proceeded to set up their chairs and music stands right in the middle of the street, which proved ideal for dancing!

In 1991, Bobby Davidson was recognized by the community he loved so much, when he was awarded the Community Medals of Arts from the Irving S. Gilmore Foundation, for his outstanding contribution to the arts in Kalamazoo.  He shared honors with Alice that year, as well as community theater advocate Tom Small. 

The medal ceremony was held in Bronson Park on July 17, 1991 at a Kalamazoo Symphony Summer Parks Concert, with Maestro Yoshimi Takeda conducting.

       At the Community Medal of Arts ceremony, Bronson Park, July 17, 1991
Left to right:  Jim Shumaker, former KSO trumpeter; Jim Gilmore, committee member; Tom Small, medal recipient; Bobby Davidson, medal recipient; Alice Mullen, medal recipient.

When Bobby Davidson died this year at age 93, Betzler funeral home was the scene of one of the year's best parties, complete with a bar, food and live music.  Saxophonist Ken Morgan, bassist Tom Knific and others formed an excellent jazz combo for the occasion. Harrison Orr, a 17-year member of Bobby Davidson's Big Band sat in and wowed the crowd with stylish clarinet solos of some of the great jazz standards.

R.I.P. Bobby... and thanks for the memories!

Friday, March 2, 2012


     Alice performs at the Kalamazoo Symphony's Designer Showhouse reception, 1990s.
     Her seat mate is Harold "Bud" Hanselman, pianist and KSO supporter.  Bud's wife
     Susan ascends the staircase.  

Kalamazoo has been blessed with the likes of Harold "Bud" Hanselman, a native Kalamazooan (1924-2011).

Bud took time out of his successful career in the paper industry to share his
talents.  Among his many volunteer projects, Harold Hanselman served on
the board of the Gilmore International Keyboard Festival and was an avid
Kalamazoo Symphony supporter.

Being a piano player himself, Bud and Alice would always talk about music whenever they
saw each other at symphony concerts.

Bud shared his enthusiasm for piano playing by providing live music for noontime diners at
Ministry With Community during the final decade of his life.  Thank you, Bud.  What a
difference you made in the lives of so many here in Kalamazoo.


Friday, January 6, 2012


A Book from Alice's Library

                             THE STORY OF GEORGE GERSHWIN by David Ewen,
                                             Illustrated by Graham Bernbach;
                           New York, Henry Holt and Company, Inc., ©1943, 211 pages.

This book from Alice's library, THE STORY OF GEORGE GERSHWIN, is a vintage hardcover edition with classic 1940s dust jacket, endpapers and illustrations by Graham Bernbach.  It was written by David Ewen, a prolific author of books about musicians and music history. THE STORY OF GEORGE GERSHWIN was published in 1943, as part of The Holt Musical Biography Series for Young People.

    Endpapers of this printing of THE STORY OF GEORGE GERSHWIN, designed by Graham
    Bernbach, © 1943, Henry Holt and Company, Inc., New York.                                                                                                            
THE STORY OF GEORGE GERSHWIN by David Ewen is currently available through Google Books, and on Amazon.

George Gershwin (1898-1937), was recognized as a great talent from the early years of his career.  Endless melodies seemed to flow from his pen.  He was a master of popular song.  Gershwin also had the knack of incorporating the harmonies and rhythms of a new kind of music born in African-American communities in the South that had migrated north to New York City's Harlem.  It was unique to America, and was an irresistible force-- JAZZ.

         "Jazz, in short, was sophisticated, stylized, even cultured ragtime. 
          If the sentimental ballad was primarily for singing, and ragtime 
          for dancing, jazz (in its highest form) was for hearing.  It would 
         bring subtlety and originality to the American popular song."
                                       -David Ewen, THE STORY OF GEORGE GERSHWIN, p. 44

Jazz music had taken the world by storm by the 1920s.  Classical composers on both sides of the Atlantic rushed to include jazz idioms in their compositions.  European composers such as Ravel, Stravinsky, and Milhaud incorporated the language of jazz in their own compositions, as well as American composers Aaron Copland and Leonard Bernstein.  We have linked an excellent article from the Boosey & Hawkes music publishers website entitled:  "Jazz on Classical:  Classical on Jazz", (December, 2006).


See also this article from the National Public Radio's Performance Today® website about the influences of jazz on classical music: "The Influence of Jazz", with Professor David Baker, ©1999, Milestones of the Millennium series.


American band leader Paul Whiteman, championed the development of jazz for the mainstream, and felt it was important to recognize jazz as an art form requiring serious consideration and careful preparation.  He was interested in creating a new hybrid-- "symphonic jazz".

In 1923, George Gershwin was asked by Whiteman to compose a large-scale work of this new genre for his own orchestra, The Paul Whiteman Orchestra.  Feeling inadequate and unprepared for such an undertaking, Gershwin told Whiteman he could not fulfill his request.  "No, Paul, I'd better stick to my songs."   -THE STORY OF GEORGE GERSHWIN by David Ewen, p. 87.

Some weeks later, Gershwin just happened to see a publicity notice in the New York Tribune announcing that George Gershwin was hard at work on a new composition for the upcoming Paul Whiteman Orchestra concert at Aeolian Hall!  He knew Whiteman meant business and wouldn't take no for an answer.  Above all, he must have realized that Paul Whiteman really believed in him.  Gershwin knew he couldn't not do it!

     Illustration by Graham Bernbach,  
                                                  by David Ewen, p. 148                                        

With the concert date looming, Gershwin had to come up with something in a few weeks' time, but a large-scale work was out of the question.  Without a structure or plan, he decided that a shorter, one-movement piece would fill the bill, a rhapsodic piece for solo piano and orchestra entitled American Rhapsody, which he later re-named Rhapsody in Blue.  Gershwin himself played the solo piano part for the world-première with the Paul Whiteman Orchestra.

Inspiration came quickly, and from unusual sources:  the rhythmic, steely clatter of train wheels when traveling up to Boston inspired a vision of the overall structure of the piece, and the middle theme emerged fully-formed in the midst of playing piano at a noisy party.

                       "As I was playing, without a thought of the Rhapsody,
                       all at once I hear myself playing a theme that must have
                       been haunting me inside, seeking outlet.  No sooner had 
                       it oozed out of my fingers than I realized I had found it."

                       "I frequently hear music in the very heart of noise."

                                        -George Gershwin quotes in David Ewen,
                                         THE STORY OF GEORGE GERSHWIN, pp. 92-3

Paul Whiteman made Gershwin swear he would complete the score, which was passed sheet by sheet to the waiting copyists and the arranger, Ferde Grofé, with just days to spare.  During the first rehearsal, Whiteman simply put down his baton and listened to the work of this 26-year-old genius.  They had a hit on their hands...


Aeolian Hall was the hub of the New York musical universe on the evening of February 12, 1924.  Prominent musicians from Rachmaninoff to John Philip Sousa were in the audience to hear what they would later learn was music history in the making.  The response was electric, and the critics loved it.  An American classic was born.  Paul Whiteman wept as he conducted.

In the words of George Gershwin himself:

                   "I hear it as a sort of musical kaleidoscope of America-- 
                    of our vast melting pot, of our incomparable national pep, 
                    our blues, our metropolitan madness."

                                 -David Ewen, THE STORY OF GEORGE GERSHWIN, p. 92

      SUNDAY IN THE PARK WITH GEORGE (GERSHWIN) ~ Alice in Bronson Park, 1961.

Alice performed George Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue with the Kalamazoo Symphony on two occasions:  at a concert in Bronson Park in September of 1961, with Gregory Millar as the KSO's new Music Director, and the following year (September, 1962) in a new venue-- the top deck of Gilmore Brothers Department Store Auto Park in downtown Kalamazoo-- the first Starlight Pops Concert of the Kalamazoo Symphony under Millar.

                                                  Alice and KSO Maestro Gregory Millar
                              Please read about the first Starlight Concert on the main blog:
ALICE'S ARCHIVES:  50 Years of Kalamazoo Symphony Memorabilia,
Title Tab:  1962/ MILLAR/ Starlight Concerts:  Bright Idea!


Wednesday, December 7, 2011


                (Darwin and Opal Brown) - Kalamazoo Gazette photo from 1975
                -Dave Hager, LOOKING BACK, Kalamazoo Gazette, December 18, 2005

Gilmore Brothers Department Store (est. 1881) was the centerpiece of downtown
retail in Kalamazoo for over 100 years.  It was located on South Burdick Street in
the heart of the shopping district, and always had an air of big-city sophistication
about it.  At Christmas, the tall storefront windows were done up with mechanical
mannequins and delightful winter scenes reminiscent of department store windows
in Chicago or New York.

Christmas wouldn't be Christmas without a trip downtown to shop at Gilmores.
Once inside the front door, your nose caught the intoxicating blend of Paris perfumes
emanating from the nearby fragrance counters.  You said hello to the oh so perfectly
powdered and coifed sales ladies-- faithful employees of long standing.

The conversations on the expansive main floor echoed off the high ceilings of exposed
duct work, and the muffled ding ding ding of the store paging system was heard in the
background.  The Christmas decorations festooning the pillars had a large-scale
theatricality about them-- oversized toys, trumpets and drums, balls, ribbon, bows and
packages were displayed at every turn.

Owner and proprietor Irving Gilmore, an elegant silver-haired gentleman in a pinstripe
suit would appear out of nowhere to greet his customers, and ask about their purchases.
His brisk, business-like air made him a formidable character, and his rapier wit revealed
a sense of fun.  You had to be on your toes if you found yourself in Irving's orbit.

The Gilmore Brothers Santa and Mrs. Claus were simply the best.  Darwin Brown
and his wife Opal were Mr. and Mrs. Santa Claus at Gilmores for decades, starting
in the 1950s.  Darwin was a retired clown, who went by the professional name of
"Brownie the Clown" during his circus days.

Santa and the Mrs. held court in Gilmore's Basement, not far from the lunch
counter/soda fountain.  The sat on red velvet chairs, trimmed with gold.  Tall
nutcracker and soldier statues stood guard nearby.  Mrs. Claus passed out candy
canes from a large basket she carried, while Santa sat in his red chair, waiting to
receive the next child behind the rope line.  The stage was set for making Christmas
memories, 1950s-style, at Gilmore Brothers in downtown Kalamazoo.

                                       Garment Label - Gilmore Brothers        
St. Nicholas (270-343), according to legend, did many acts of anonymous charity
throughout his lifetime.  Nicholas helped out a poor man with three daughters by
leaving each of them a small purse containing gold coins without revealing his
identity.  In another version of the story, he dropped a purse down the chimney
that landed in one of their stockings that was hanging up to dry near the fireplace.

Nicholas is the Patron Saint of children, students and merchants, among others.

Irving S. Gilmore (1900-1986), is well-known in Kalamazoo for his many contributions
to the arts and to social causes, but little is known about his own anonymous acts of charity.

          "Irving was a dear friend to people in all walks of life.  Much of his
           philanthropy during his lifetime was always behind the scenes...
           In his own quiet way, Irving helped hundreds and hundreds of 
           people in this town... many times they didn't even know it was 
           Irving who was helping them."

              -Irving Gilmore's good friend Al Connable, from his book entitled
               A MICHIGAN MAN:  The Life & Times of Kalamazoo's Al Connable
               as Told to Tom Thinnes, 1998, p. 256.

Irving bought musical instruments and paid for private lessons or school tuition
for many a promising student over the years.  He even purchased a concert grand
piano for a gifted composer.  Irving Gilmore made dreams come true for many
people, but did not seek recognition for having played a part.  He was Kalamazoo's
very own St. Nicholas.

In honor of Irving Gilmore's generosity, and in the spirit of the Christmas season,
Alice's Archivist offers up this paean to Irving Gilmore-- with apologies to Clement
C. Moore!

NOTE:  This ode is a work of fiction, but Irving's beneficence was very real indeed.


The Place:  Gilmore Brothers Department Store, downtown Kalamazoo
The Time:  Christmas Eve, long ago

'Twas the night before Christmas and all through the store,
Walked Kalamazoo's own Santa, Irving Gilmore.

The stockings were hung in Lingerie with care,
Stylish young ladies liked to shop there.

There were piles of kerchiefs and warm woolen caps,
And perfume and jewelry to purchase, perhaps.

Dresses on Second Floor, Shoes up on Four,
Shoppers went to and fro, looking for more.

Irving stood by and greeted the crowd,
His family business made Kalamazoo proud.

At 9 o'clock closing he bid staff "Good Night!
I'll lock up myself and turn out the light."

As he sat in his office and counted the till,
A noise from outside so sweet and so shrill

Made him go to the window, he flew like a flash,
Tore open the shutters and threw up the sash.

The moon on the crest of the new fallen snow
Showed one tiny figure with a fiddle and bow.

He was covered all over with snowflakes galore,
Irving said "Come on in and get warm in my store!"

"Do you study with anyone?" Mr. Gilmore inquired,
"You play violin like an artist inspired!"

"No sir, no money for lessons..."  What a shame
Thought Irving, I know a teacher by name.

Ah ha thought Irving, an idea came to mind--
Pay for the boy's lessons, but not let him find

The name of his benefactor-- that is best,
To keep acts of charity close to the vest,
That is the way we can all feel blessed.

                         -Alice's Archivist, December 6, 2011
                           Saint Nicholas Day

                                     Gilmore Brothers gift box, c.1960

Sunday, November 27, 2011


                HENRY MANCINI ~ 37¢ Postage Stamp, 2004, Scott Catalog # 3839
                                             (click on image to enlarge)

HENRY MANCINI (1924-1994) was memorialized by the United States Postal Service
in 2004 when they issued a postage stamp to honor the achievements of this great
American composer and arranger of many popular and beloved movie and television
scores.  Note the Pink Panther in the lower left corner of the stamp.

                                           *           *          *         *
When Oscar-winning music man Henry Mancini blew into Kalamazoo in July, 1964,
the Kalamazoo Symphony Starlight audience was treated to an evening of the suave
and stylish movie and television scores that had that magic touch of Henry Mancini.
The mere mention of Moon River, Days of Wine and Roses, Pink Panther, and Peter
Gunn evoke memories of a kind of '60s cool that appealed to music lovers of all ages.

Mancini was both conductor and solo pianist for that memorable evening under the
stars.  A record-setting 4,500 people were in attendance atop Gilmore's Auto Park
in downtown Kalamazoo.

After the concert, KSO Conductor Gregory Millar and his wife Roslyn threw a post-
concert reception for Mr. Mancini at their rambling Victorian house on Wheaton

There was a crush of people there to party with the guest artist, a modest and
unassuming man who cut a fine figure in his '60s-era suit and skinny tie.  "I like your
outfit Mr. Mancini!" blurted one of Alice's teenaged daughters, much to the surprise
and delight of the man himself.  Later that evening, Alice shared the piano bench with
Mancini for an impromptu jam session.  "Neat guy!", exclaimed Alice.

COMING SOON...  Watch for an upcoming article on Henry Mancini and his appearance
with the Kalamazoo Symphony on the main blog, ALICE'S ARCHIVES:  50 Years of
Kalamazoo Symphony Memorabilia, Title Tab:  1960s/MILLAR/ Starlight Concerts:
Bright Idea!       

In the meantime... visit the Henry Mancini website-- very cool.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011


Al Connable and party guests at the Connable cottage, Gull Lake, Michigan, 1964.
Large snapshot, upper left hand corner:
Front row, left to right:  Alice, Roma Connable (Al's daughter-in-law), H.P. Connable
(Al's brother) and his wife Geno, C.H. in his signature teeth and glasses.
Back row, left to right:  Ann Cain, Al Connable (The Admiral), Bob Cain, Roslyn Frantz
Millar (wife of Kalamazoo Symphony Music Director Gregory Millar).
On tuba:  Fred Ashby.
             For a slide show of all images, click on a photograph to get to a new page.

Alfred B. Connable, Kalamazoo Symphony board member, benefactor, and Kalamazoo's
most enthusiastic booster, played host to many friends at the family cottage on the
north end of Gull Lake.  It was a simple yet elegant white house set under spreading
oak and maple trees with an expanse of lawn going right down to the water's edge.

In the early-1960s, Al acquired a pontoon boat, which was christened the "S.S. A.B.C.".
As soon as it found its home on the waters of Gull Lake, Al became the self-proclaimed
"Admiral".  He dubbed chosen friends "Honorary Captain".

               S.S. A.B.C. Official Document designed by "Commodore" Fred Ashby,
               a talented graphic artist who was married to Al's niece.

The Barge became a floating party platform, the center of Connable capers of all kinds.
Hats were de rigeur, and zaniness ruled the waves...

The S.S. A.B.C. had annual "ports of call" at a number of cottages on Gull Lake, whose
inhabitants  would come out to greet the Barge and its merry crew, sometimes in
costume.  Dori and Bill Lawrence served them tea and crumpets on their dock!   Harold
Jacobson welcomed them in Hawaiian attire, banging a tin drum.  "We made him the
official harbor master, awarding him a certificate.  Hell, just about everybody had a
certificate or ranking..."

"Strange things happened when people were caught up in the 'Spirit of the Barge'.  To be
a barger, one had to be partially nuts.  Nobody knows how it all started.  It just did.
There was no formal process.  We played it by ear."

                                -Al Connable, as told to Tom Thinnes in A MICHIGAN MAN:  
                                 The Life & Times of Kalamazoo's Al Connable, Priscilla Press,
                                 Allegan Forest, Michigan, 1998, p. 302.

Here are photos from two memorable events aboard the S.S. A.B.C. ~
The Mermaid Party, and a Barge Launch & Barbeque.


The mermaids arrive on dry land after hearing the clarion call of the Barge tuba.
A seaworthy Chris-Craft transports the maidens and Neptune himself to the moorings
at the Connable cottage... just in time for cocktails!


      These Barge Barbeques were an annual event.  Pictured in this montage clockwise:
      Ned Woolley, C.H., Joe Brogger, standing on dry land; Gregory Millar with Fauvette,
      Al's standard poodle;  The Admiral (with cigar), H.P. Connable (in striped jacket),
      Ned Woolley (in beret).

Joe was an avid sailor who also had a cottage on Gull Lake.  He credits Al Connable
with saving his life one Sunday morning when a storm blew up.  Joe was in his sailboat
which was badly damaged and taking on water.  The Admiral happened to be cruising
in the vicinity and heard Joe's S.O.S.  With a couple of strong lines attached to the
damaged vessel, the S.S. A.B.C. towed it safely to shore.

"Joe still remembers that I saved his life.  At least, he said I did.  At any rate, I awarded
myself The Connable Cross."   -Al Connable, A MICHIGAN MAN, p. 300. 



                              Barge Badge worn by Honorary Captain Mullen


Al and family moved away from Gull Lake in the 1970s, but fond memories remain
with the people who attended his parties aboard the S.S. A.B.C.  Al sent copies of
snapshots from those years to friends long after he had established summer quarters
elsewhere.  What became of the Barge itself?  It was returned to Pine Lake-- a gift
to a veterans' rehab center located there.

               Al Connable on the S.S. A.B.C. with Gregory Millar (seated), 1965.

                           "Present mirth hath present laughter..."          -Shakespeare

Wonderful stories abound in Al's book, A MICHIGAN MAN:  The Life & Times
of Kalamazoo's Al Connable, as told to Tom Thinnes, Priscilla Press, Allegan
Forest, Michigan, 1998, 338 pages, with over 100 photos, and an extensive index.

Read about Al Connable in the main blog, ALICE'S ARCHIVES:  50 Years of
Kalamazoo Symphony Memorabilia.  Just click on the link to find three articles:

~ Gilmore and the Gruen Plan  (Title Tab)
   Scroll down for:
~ Boulevardiers and Benefactors:  Al Connable and Irving Gilmore "On the Mall"
~ Michigan Man:  Al Connable, Kalamazoo's boulevardier par excellence.